This is the story of your first fever. It was wednesday, February 17th, 2016. That day, we had woken up on our usual time. You had given me your brightest smile that you reserve for me in the mornings and I had felt content, expecting a regular day ahead of us. Sure, I hadn’t slept much the night before or the one before as you had started waking up frequently but I didn’t think much of it. You were moving about in sleep, flailing your limbs and waking yourself up from slumber. Though my body had been protesting it for long, my mind was making its peace with it. It was our normal. But what followed after waking up wasn’t.
I realized you were a little warm to the touch but I imagined it had more to do with you snuggling up to me and burying your face in my chest for the better part of the night. When you didn’t display an appetite for your breakfast and looked drowsy instead, I still didn’t think anything of it. Complying with your protests, I kept breakfast away, gave your face a quick wash and started to change you out of your night suit for the morning nap. It was then that I realized you were still warm, even warmer than in the morning.
I still went ahead with our routine, gave you a milk feed and put you to sleep. You woke up unhappy, the smile wiped off your beautiful face. Since you had had very little breakfast, I made you a snack and asked Juliet, our kind help, to feed you while I went to the bathroom to clean and freshen up. I was in there for merely 5 mins when Juliet called me to say you had vomited. Everything, the milk, the breakfast and whatever you had eaten as a snack had come out. You looked miserable and almost jumped out of her lap into mine. My heart broke to see you looking so. I cleaned you again and began rocking you to soothe you but you promptly fell asleep.
You proceeded to spend the entire morning and early afternoon dozing off and crying in the brief spells that you were awake. By then, it was clear that you were not feeling well. You were getting warmer too.
Soon, your daddy came home for lunch. We were debating whether to call the nurse or the doctor while we ate. In the other room, Juliet was feeding you lunch. Perhaps she didn’t realize how poorly you were feeling so despite your protests, she fed you and for the second time that day, you vomited. I was beyond myself with a number of different feelings. Upset with Juliet for forcing you, more upset with myself for not being the one to feed you but most of all, I felt very, very sorry for you. I held you close and called the doctor. He was unavailable. I called another doctor but he refused to see a new patient. I was beginning to get desperate, seeing how badly hit you were. Daddy calmed me down and called the clinic sister for an immediate appointment. Half an hour later, we were in her room.
Your temperature reading was 38 degree C. I was used to readings in degree F and the number meant nothing to me. The sister said it was high. She proceeded to check your ears, throat etc for possible signs of infection. It was then that you let out desperate wails that were signs of sheer agony. So much so that even Daddy looked to be in pain seeing you like that. He took you from the sister’s arms and held you in his protective bear hug, rocking you while I spoke to the sister, telling her your history for the last few days. She asked us to give you Panado (paracetamol) immediately and wait it out. She suggested we take you to a doctor the next day if the condition did not improve. That evening, apart from Panado, I also gave you big doses of love, refusing to part with you for even a moment. You looked most comfortable in my arms so nobody suggested otherwise.
It was a long night again. When you touched my chest while I breastfed you, your palms were burning. When I laid my cheek on your forehead to feel and comfort you at the same time, it singed. You were burning up and continued to do so all night despite the 4 hourly dose of paracetamol. You woke up next morning with a temperature, the thermometer still showing a reading of 38 degrees. All my prayers had come to naught. I wanted to breakdown and cry but held on for your sake. I decided to call the doctor should things remain the same till lunch time. But after the day’s 1st nap, your temperature began to dip.
By no means were you beginning to get better, though. You were still miserable, more so than the previous day. Your sleep was disturbed, you woke up crying after ten minutes of sleep. This confused me more. I didn’t know whether to take you the doctor or not now that your temperature had come down but there was no improvement in your state of being. What helped me make the decision was what I saw when you were crying inconsolably in my arms around noon time.
It was just a flash, a blink-and-miss moment but that was all that I needed. A pearly white tooth, your very first, peeking through your lower gums. Oh! My baby’s first fever was just a precursor for her first tooth, I thought. And then, despite everything, I started feeling better. That’s because at that moment, I knew it was going to be alright soon!
Update: 12 days later, on the day you turned 9 months old, another tooth made its appearance. This time, it was the one right on top of the first one.